The March 2005 issue of Counsel to Counsel referred to an interesting idea (pg. 9): for a large merger, the general counsel selected a senior lawyer, suspended or re-assigned that lawyer’s typical responsibilities, and for the duration of the deal, made the merger the lawyer’s sole job. (Also noteworthy, the general counsel persuaded the president of the unit driving the merger to similarly assign a top lieutenant from that business unit.)
Opportunities like these can be rewards (well, I don’t want to be naïve, as they might be nightmares) for the temporarily-assigned lawyer, and they will certainly test and grow the lawyer’s management skills. They recognize the person as worthy of special treatment. It is part of succession planning and talent development. Might even get the deal done more efficiently!